How to Elope in NYC

Planning to elope in NYC? This guide contains all the essentials you need to know, assembled from experience over 9 years and more than 350 weddings as a New York elopement photographer. From “Where do we elope in NYC?” to “How do we elope in NYC?!” and everything in between, these top tips and insights are for anyone looking to elope in NYC in a unique and stress-free manner.

COVID-19 Update

As of March 20, 2020 the Marriage Bureau is closed until further notice. Recently Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that wedding licenses and ceremonies can be obtained online, but we’re still waiting on specifics.

Update: Project Cupid has been announced and we have some details on how to obtain your marriage license online.

Elope in NYC with a rooftop ceremony at 620 Loft & Garden

Why should we elope in NYC?

There are lots of amazing places to get married in the world, but chances are you don’t need any convincing that NYC is at the top of the list. Everyone planning a New York elopement is in for a treat: an easy marriage license process, a wide variety of amazing options, and of course the city itself as the backdrop to your wedding day.

  • You’ll be eloping in an amazing city, and all that is has to offer is now at your fingertips to plan an awesome wedding day.
  • The NYC marriage license process is simple whether you’re a local or planning a destination wedding.
  • The wait period after obtaining your license is only 24 hours.
  • You can extend your stay directly into an NYC honeymoon.

When you’re planning to elope in NYC you can create anything from an outdoor Central Park wedding to an intimate wedding and reception at a local landmark venue. With a New York elopement you are free to create exactly the wedding day you desire.

How do we obtain our marriage license?

The first step to getting legally married is to obtain the New York marriage license. The City Clerk’s office, located at 141 Worth Street in Manhattan, issues the $35 license. While the Manhattan location is the most popular, you can get the license in any New York county including any of NYC’s other boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx.

You can save a little time by starting the marriage license paperwork online, but either way you and your partner must finish the process together in person. The City Clerk’s website contains more detailed NYC marriage license information.

How do we plan the perfect ceremony?

A full 24 hours after receiving your marriage license, you can perform your wedding ceremony. While most couples are opting to hire a private officiant these days, getting married at City Hall along with other couples from all over the world is still a great experience.

hire an elopement officiant for your New York wedding

Option A: Elope anywhere in NYC by hiring an elopement officiant.

You can get married anywhere in NYC, so why limit yourself to a City Hall wedding? You can be on The High Line surrounded by the fall foliage, amongst the skyline at 620 Loft & Garden, or celebrating at an intimate restaurant venue like Frankies 457.

Hiring an officiant is the best way to craft a unique NYC elopement. You’ll be able to customize your ceremony with vows, readings, and other personal touches. Check out these tips for finding the perfect elopement officiant!

Option B: Elope at City Hall.

Having a City Hall wedding is truly a unique experience. On any given weekday, couples from all over the world come here to exchange vows. The waiting room is a people-watcher’s dream and you can’t help but bubble with excitement as you wait for your number to be called.

For NYC elopement couples that want an easy way to tie the knot,  see my in-depth guide for getting married at City Hall.

An easy way to elope in NYC is to have a City Hall wedding

Some extra steps for international couples.

If you’re not a US citizen you’ll need to get an additional “long form” document after your ceremony has been performed. You’ll return to the City Clerk’s Office to obtain this and it will enable you to register the marriage back in your home country. If you’re from a non-English speaking country, you’ll also need to get an apostille. You can read more about the apostille at the Department of State’s website.

Booking a nice hotel? Start your wedding photos there!

If you’ll be splurging on a swanky hotel when you elope in NYC, capturing photos before heading out the door is always a fantastic idea. Check out my in-depth guide on why getting ready photos still matter on an intimate wedding day.

Start your elopement photos at your hotel

We can use this time to style your details and lend a high-end touch to your photography coverage, arrange a first look to capture the utter joy you feel when you see your partner all dressed up, or capture some intimate family group photos before hopping in cabs. Wondering where to book a stay? See my profile of three great hotels to stay in when you elope in NYC.

Where should we go for wedding portraits in the city?

When planning a New York elopement, there aren’t any bad places to take portraits. It’s just about finding the side of NYC you want to have as a backdrop, whether that’s skyline or graffiti. But therein lies the problem! If everywhere is good, where should we go explore?

There are lots of locations to explore in NYC for wedding portraits

The obvious locations are always popular — Central Park, Top of the Rock, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Grand Central, The High Line — and for good reason. They scream “we got married in New York City!” While it’s great to include the major landmarks, I encourage you to wander off the beaten path. A good strategy is to pick a neighborhood that has a certain vibe you love (eg, gritty hipster, classic architecture, or skyline views) and we’ll explore organically from there.

Where should we host a fabulous reception?

After all of the official stuff is taken care of, it’s time to party! If you’re looking to host an intimate wedding reception there are great options throughout the city. You could get competitive over shuffleboard, take over a bar for drinks and dancing, or have pizza at a rooftop restaurant with skyline views.

An intimate wedding dinner at Gemma on the Bowery

For a formal reception with meal and entertainment you’ll want to rent out a private event space like a restaurant or other intimate venue. This will allow you to set the mood, style the room, and provide your guests with an amazing celebration.

Want to get around in style? Hire a classic checker cab.

Taking the subway or hailing a cab is for getting to work. To get around town when you elope in NYC I suggest riding in a classic NYC Checker cab. Hell, if I was going to elope in NYC tomorrow my first call would be to Peter at FilmCars for his deep selection of classic cars. Riding around town in one of these babies is so cool, and taking portraits with it is a really special addition to any elopement. I highly recommend booking one!

Hire a classic checker cab for your NYC elopement